Magali Tisseyre: Calgary 70.3 Race Report
I think a few things helped me get the effort of which I am most proud of this year:
- Finding the right focus (before and during the race)
- Physical preparation I was confident about. Confidence building training sessions that I precisely understood and that I could trust because numbers don't lie.
- Knowing that it is not necessary to build up too much anxiety on race morning. You can show up relaxed, happy and do better.We are already programmed to go hard when the gun goes off and we have to trust that. It was so much more fun this way and it is the way I was mentally strongest.
- Knowing that the race is part of a bigger plan and that one result can't make or break me and knowing that my coach knows my true potential and shares my vision.
I have never been so relaxed before the start of a race. I was taking in the moment. It was just beautiful Sunday morning at Ghost lake. It was a double transition race, which I love. We were staying in Cochrane (instead of Calgary) and this was only 10 minutes from T1. I have to thank mom for having suggested that we do that. We got to wake up at 5am (with the start being at seven) and that was great. I had lots of time for a good run warmup. Ghost lake was COLD but after a few minutes spent in the water warming up, it felt fine.
It was a DIVE START….UH OH! Have I ever done one of those? I don't remember but I just hope my goggles stay on! okay…so here, I may have had the wrong focus. Worrying about my goggles instead of how to execute a perfect dive. Result: The race started with a fantastic belly flop. But it was kind of cool because that half belly flop (in a wetsuit) got me going pretty well. It is like I hydro-slid my way into my first strokes in my TYR Freak of Nature wetsuit and I was well positioned when I reached the first buoy. This one male pro was a little faster and I nearly lost his feet a few times but kept on thinking about one thing:FIGHT BACK…and every time there was a little gap, I kept on coming back. At one point, I felt a hand delicately touch my foot. It had to be another woman in my feet. I kept my focus in front though and eventually, the person who was in the back (being quite polite with the delicate, occasional touch), passed me going quite fast, it was Lisa Mensink but I had no idea at the time. It was now two heads leading me. And another male pro caught up and stayed to my left. Turning around the last buoy, we were a pack of four. Unfortunately, I was breathing to my left as usual and I swallowed a few cups of Ghost lake freezing water when I caught the wake of the swimmer to my left. I am pretty sure he heard me choke under water. He must have wondered what kind of monster living at the bottom of the lake could make such sounds. When I got out of the water, I had no idea in what position I was or who had been swimming with me but I was happy to hear the announcer say that Lisa Mensink was the woman exiting with me. I must have had a good swim then!! I was second woman out of the water (2 seconds behind Lisa) but I had a terrible transition. I had forgotten my body glide at the hotel room and borrowed some bo from a friendly athlete before the start and had not been as generous as usual when applying it. As a result, the wetsuit just wouldn't come off (my fault)!!! Finally, I had to lay on my back and have a volunteer pull it off for me. Thank you to that volunteer!! Transitions were not my strong point on Sunday as we calculated I had lost a total of 50 seconds on the competition in transition time. Not good. Lisa was out of sight by the time I left transition and it took me a while to catch her back. Lisa is a 2008 Olympian and holds the number 1 ranking for -best cyclist- on the ITU circuit for 2010 so she surely would be a factor in the race and I wasn't surprised that she was going so strong on the bike.
Once I had passed Lisa on the bike, I was alone for a while. A few pro men passed me fast and I had to stay in my zone and trust my own effort in order to stay confident and KNOW that I was riding strong enough to stay at the front of the women's race all the way into T2.
That was my goal. To get off the bike feeling ready for a good run but also to put in the necessary effort if someone passed me and was riding away. I had to come off the bike somewhere in the front in order to put all chances on my side in this race. The girls are tough and I wasn't going to take a chance. I had to be strong in all three if I wanted to win.
Melanie McQuaid passed me in a hill around 40k (not exactly sure if it was 40k but I think it was somewhere around there). After she had passed me, I used the visual to pick up the pace. However, I didn't try to match her pace. It felt like it would compromise my run legs to try to do that. I upped my effort and made it very hard but I made sure not to push it to the point of blowing up. Still, it was definitely a very big effort for me to keep Mel in sight until T2. I entered T2 45 seconds behind. That girl is so very strong and aggressive. I have alot of respect for Mel. She posted the fastest bike time of the day. Putting 2 minutes on me, and I was quite proud of my bike split of 2:22:35 when the course was actually 93k long. The changes I have made in my bike training have been paying off and there was definitely alot of energy deployed on the bike during that race.
On the run, I started running with a so-so general energy. My legs didn't feel so compromised but it was like I had a bit of a sugar low and my general energy was not with me from the start. I replaced the usual worry by a focus on my FuelBelt flask (I had Coca-Cola in my flask and it helped me get some calories in early in the run). I also focused on form, to realize I was actually running light on my feet. I though, as long as I can fuel correctly, I will get a good rythm going soon. It took around 5K for things to start feeling better. I started opening up my stride and taking pride in the fact that I was leading. I passed Mel on the run around 3-4k but then I knew I had to give it my very best because behind me, were some very strong runners. Heather Jackson was charging (she would post the best run split) and I also figured Lisa Mensink, with her ITU background and great running skills could not be counted out. Sara Gross is also a very good runner and I had no idea how far back any of these girls were. Thankfully, I was running for the first time with some stats. I had put on my Garmin watch and was trying to fight to maintain a pace that I knew from training, I could handle. So I just focused on doing my very best at every moment and trying to keep up with my watch. By the time I hit the turnaround at 10.5K, I looked at my split and it was close to what I wanted to do. It was a hilly course so I did expect it to maybe be a little slower. And it was. Still, shortly after I reached the turn around I saw Heather Jackson(50 seconds from me at that point I think), charging, as expected.
I knew then that if I didn't give it my absolute best effort. She would probably get me. She is fast and she is tough. During that last stretch back, I fought so hard with myself. I had to be so positive, stay confident in this challenging situation. After the last steep climb, I had to turn around and see for myself how I was doing…and I saw Heather right there.
Things could have gone one way or the other at that point. I reached for my final -GU- Roctane and I decided to go for it, to open up even more and to pretend like I only had a few meters left…and then I kept it going….and going…remembering how it felt running those intervals on the track with Lucy Smith (Lance's wife). Staying at the rythm and trusting that i was going fast, convincing myself I was doing great. I just couldn't wait to see that finish line appear. The last K felt like three. And I kept on building the effort until the finish. I crossed the line and it was the best feeling in the world and my best fight in a very long time.
I am back home with her now for a few days. It is now thursday and I am still quite sore…we start ramping back up tomorrow!
Next up is Sooke Olympic distance chase race. I will train through it but I definitely intend to give it my best. After that, more training with Lance and I will be on my way to world championships from Victoria.
Thank you to my amazing support group: My mom, My coach Lance Watson from Lifesport, Lance's wife Lucy who did some key training with me leading up to this race, my friends, all of you who follow and my outstandin g sponsors: Shimano, Blue bikes, TYR, Avia, KASK, Fuel Belt, Computrainer, Compressport. Thank you to Torhans and GU for having sending me products I love.
Happy training everyone! Let's keep it going!!